When I was growing up, my dad didn’t flatter me by telling me I was the smartest or prettiest girl in the world.
My dad didn’t force his expectations on me. He never recommended a specific college major or career or marrying age or family size.
My dad didn’t treat me like a diva who deserved to have all her whims catered to because she was a “princess” or a “daddy’s girl.”
My dad didn’t offer to pay tens of thousands of dollars to fulfill my wedding fantasies.
What my dad DID do was tell me he was proud of me.
What my dad DID do was support me at every turn – driving me to writing and speech competitions in high school, flying with me to California to start college (the first time I had ever been west of the Mississippi River!), moving me to grad school in Connecticut, driving my mom and I to the hospital the morning of my mastectomy…and taking me up on whatever adventure I suggested (even when it meant trying sushi).
What my dad DID do was set an example with his life about what it means to practice kindness and faithfulness and perseverance and integrity.
What my dad DID do was focus on my intelligence and gifts instead of my looks.
What my dad DID do was unconditionally love me, even (or especially) when I was the worst version of myself.
What my dad DID do was tell me what every girl needs to hear. Because all our lives, we’re told that we don’t have long enough eyelashes or shapely enough calves or sexy enough clothes or expensive enough jeans or smooth enough skin or trendy enough decor or interesting enough resumes or handsome enough significant others.
And what we — what I — what every daughter — needs to hear most is what my dad told me, what he reinforced with his actions and life and words and posture towards me.
My dad told me that I was enough.